Title: The Infinite Knowledge of J. T. Badgley
Author: Tiana Warner
Genre: science fiction
Price: $2.99 (ebook) $16.95 (paperback)
Publisher: Tiana Warner
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
I have to confess that I was supposed to review Tiana Warner’s novel, her first, some time ago. However, the book seemed to find its way to the bottom of my to-be-read list, so I didn’t get around to it until recently. Ms. Warner, the author, is a very recent graduate of the University of British Columbia. Following the time-honored if not hoary dictum of “write what you know,” Jacob Badgley, the title character, is also Canadian, and when the events of the novel start, he is waiting to take finals for his first year at school.
After a prologue that only makes sense once one reads the whole book, we start with Jacob’s experiences during an end-of-session party at a nameless Canadian college. Jacob has a bit too much fun, and ends up in an abandoned house with an unusual sphere in his hands. The sphere sucks him through space and deposits him on the planet Zielararde, where he is held as a figurehead / mascot. Zielaarde is having an unusual problem, namely “Loss of Gravity,” and Jacob’s public presence is intended to insure that the Government has things well in hand. It’s probably not too much of a spoiler to suggest that the Government in fact does not have things in hand. The novel is then the story of how Jacob tries to get back to Earth while not running afoul of his handlers.
I found Infinite Knowledge an unusual book. The “loss of gravity” problem bears more than a passing resemblance to our global warming issue. I do have to say that the Zielaardians are not quite stereotypical aliens, although the alien leader could come straight out of Central Casting. Jacob, the title character, is fairly-well realized, as is Sophie, the other main human in the book.
Overall, I found the book competently written, but flat. For most of the book, it felt like I was reading something I’d read a dozen times before, a basic alien abduction tale. The discovery of how humans get home was a bit of a surprise, but there was no scientific support behind it. In fact, the introduction of that way home contradicted some of the earlier themes and ideas of the book. The Infinite Knowledge of J. T. Badgley was okay, but nothing to write home to Mom about.